As most chocoholics already know, dark chocolate can help lower insulin resistance, reduce blood pressure and even decrease appetite. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry showed that the antioxidants found in cocoa also prevent mice from gaining excess weight.
Chocolate Inhibits Weight Gain and Diabetes
The components in chocolate responsible for these remarkable health benefits are called flavanols. While they are still not fully understood, they have been found to contribute to the inhibition of type-2-diabetes as well as obesity.
The Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, and Metabolic Phenotyping Core Facility Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia studied mice over the course of 12 weeks. The mice were administered a high fat diet along with a cocoa extract.
This is the first long-term study done to examine the activities of cocoa constituents on diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance.
Findings showed that mice benefited from decreased weight gain, fat mass, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Fantastic findings for dark chocolate lovers.
Nutrient Value of Dark Chocolate
[box]100 grams of dark chocolate with a 70-85% cocoa content provides:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 98% RDA of Manganese
- 89% RDA of Copper
- 67% RDA of Iron
- 58% RDA of Magnesium
Also contains potassium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. [/box]
The same 100 grams of dark chocolate also contains about 600 calories and some added sugar. Certainly not recommended to consume regularly, but in moderation dark chocolate can offer a host of health benefits.
Cocoa for Heart Health
One study examined 470 elderly men over a 15 year period. Cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by 50%!
Cholesterol levels are a major factor in heart disease. Cocoa has been shown to reduce LDL lipoproteins, known as “bad cholesterol” while increasing HDL lipoproteins, “good cholesterol”.
The antioxidants found in cocoa help protect these lipoproteins from oxidative damage. Helping to prevent cholesterol from accumulating on the arterial walls, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Dark chocolate also reduces insulin resistance, another major concern and risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.
The Bottom Line
High quality dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa can help protect against heart disease, weight gain and diabetes.
Moderation is key. Enjoy dark chocolate 3-5 times per week, but in small amounts.